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Things Go Better With More Room

May 22, 2003

Arthur Nead

anead@tulane.edu

Several Tulane departments are preparing to move all or part of their operations into the former Coca-Cola bottling plant warehouse on South Jefferson Davis Parkway in mid-city New Orleans. Chief among the expanding departments are the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library and the university's printing operations.

"We've signed a 10-year lease with the owner," says Henry Fry, the former director of campus planning who retired in March. The 50,000-square-foot warehouse has ample space to accommodate Tulane's relocations, according to Fry. "There's a wine merchant operating in one corner of the facility, and we're going to assume the rest. We're going to put the print shop operation in the other corner on Jefferson Davis Parkway, and the entire rear area is dedicated to book shelving and library storage," says Fry.

Also slated to be housed at the warehouse are materials from the Amistad Research Center and the Newcomb Art Gallery. Each department has its own compelling reason for taking advantage of the warehouse.

"We're going to have to move the printing operation that's currently in Zemurray Hall out by May 20," says Mike Britt, director of document and visual communications.

Zemurray Hall is going to be torn down this summer to make way for a new residence hall. Britt says the plan is to consolidate the press operations currently located in uptown Zemurray with those on the downtown campus, bringing them together at the mid-city location. Other printing services operations also will be affected by scheduled renovation projects, said Britt.

For example, the electronic printing services currently housed at the University Center will be moved during renovations of that building. All university electronic printing operations will be located at the Coca Cola building, along with support functions such as paper storage and outbound mail handling.

The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, as well other library collections at Tulane, face a problem not caused by dislocation, but have for some time suffered from a lack of shelf space for the ever-growing collections of books and periodicals. The Howard-Tilton Library will occupy about 21,000 square feet in the warehouse, says Lance Query, dean of the library and academic information. This area will be used to store the least-used books and periodicals in the library's collections, creating much-needed shelf space in the main library.

"These materials will be primarily journals that are no longer published or that we no longer subscribe to, as well as books that have circulated less than twice in the past 12 years," says Query.

It will still be possible for library patrons to check out materials that have been transferred from the open stacks of the main library to the off-campus storage facility.

"We're promising a 24-hour turnaround," says Query. If a request for materials is made by 1 p.m., Query guarantees the materials will be available by 5 p.m. Otherwise, it's within 24 hours, five days a week, he says. The warehouse renovations began four months ago, preceded by demolition and clean-up by the owner, says Fry, who estimates the renovation work is about 90 percent completed. If renovations remain on schedule, the new tenants can start moving in about a month.

The new warehouse will provide "truly state-of-the-art environmental conditions for the storage of books and paper in terms of temperature, light and humidity," says Query.

"It's better than any other facility in the city for archiving books and paper." Because the stacks are not open, the storage areas will be non-staffed. "The only people who will going there will be the people who retrieve materials," says Query. "We'll be sending somebody over once a day."

Arthur Nead can be reached at anead@tulane.edu.

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